Atlantic, Pacific coasts could be open to leasing for first time in decades.
Background: For the first time in decades, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will be opened up to oil and gas leasing under the Interior Department’s draft Five Year Plan for leasing in federal waters. Areas off the eastern Gulf of Mexico and Alaska are also open to leasing in the draft 2019 – 2024 plan.
Our nation’s coastlines are home to 88 national parks, including icons like Acadia, Biscayne, and Channel Islands national parks, which protect unique coastal and marine environments. National seashores such as Cape Hatteras, Point Reyes, and Cape Cod serve as vacation destinations for beachgoers, whale watchers and birding enthusiasts. And historical sites including Fort Sumter National Monument, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and Cabrillo National Monument remind us of the important role our coastlines played in our shared American history.
Visitors to the 46 national parks along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, including Acadia National Park and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, support over 45,000 jobs and generate more than $3.7 billion in economic output. Communities that are home to these parks, including Santa Barbara, Ocean City, Nags Head, Cape Canaveral, Miami Beach, Charleston and Baltimore, have stood up for their coastal resources and formally oppose offshore drilling and exploration.
The draft plan includes a public comment period of just 60 days. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) will join other organizations in requesting an extension and urging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hold additional hearings in coastal communities to hear from the national park communities, fishing businesses and others who would be most affected by offshore leasing and development.
Statement by Nick Lund, NPCA Senior Manager for Conservation Programs:
“National Parks Conservation Association opposes this sweeping proposal to open waters off our national parks for drilling. For the first time in decades, the waters, wildlife and local economies of coastal parks like Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina and Channel Islands National Park in California will be at risk to the dangers of drilling.
“Communities surrounding 88 coastal national parks, including Santa Barbara, Beach, Charleston and Baltimore, have formally opposed offshore drilling and exploration. National park lands and waters are imperiled from spills that inevitably happen when we industrialize our oceans with oil and gas production. Channel Islands was harmed by 200,000 gallons spilled in 1969. Alaskan national parks including Kenai Fjords and Katmai still experience the Exxon Valdez spill impacts three decades later. And wildlife and recreation at Gulf Islands National Seashore continue to suffer the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, which cost coastal communities $22 billion in lost revenue. We cannot let the future of our coastal national parks include tar balls on Cape Cod’s beaches or oil-soaked birds at Point Reyes.
“In addition to its proposal for offshore drilling, the administration has signaled its desire to weaken safety measures developed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Such safeguards are crucial and commonsense measures to prevent future economic and environmental devastation.
“We must not forget past mistakes. We must make smarter decisions for our oceans and coastal national parks so that our children and grandchildren can visit and experience these places unspoiled.”
About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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